‘Turkey’s allies shouldn’t block its S-400 deal’

BALIKESIR, Turkey (AA): Turkey’s allies should not stand in the way of its purchase of a Russian anti-air system, the country’s top diplomat said Wednesday.

“If we are NATO allies and need to increase our solidarity, and Turkey asks you, you should also sell [defense goods to Turkey],” Mevlut Cavusoglu said. “You should not interrupt Turkey’s purchases from another country or a country outside NATO, if you don’t want to sell.”

Speaking at the opening of a ruling Justice and Development (AK) party office, Cavusoglu stressed that Turkey signed a contract with Russia to purchase the S-400 anti-air system to defend its airspace.

He said that although various officials in the U.S. had commented on the deal, “As our president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s statements are binding in Turkey, Trump is interlocutor to our president in the U.S.

“If the Republic of Turkey and Recep Tayyip Erdogan have signed an agreement, he has given a promise, then he realizes the requirements that the promise and the agreement bring,” he added.

Washington claims the S-400 system might covertly obtain critical information on its advanced F-35 fighter jets, including their detection range, which could then be relayed to Russia.

After protracted efforts to purchase the systems from the U.S. with no success, Ankara decided in 2017 to buy the Russian S-400 air defense systems.

Cavusoglu said last week that Ankara and Washington have begun negotiating the potential purchase of Patriot missile defense systems from the U.S.

In December the State Department approved a possible $3.5 billion sale of the Patriot systems to Turkey that includes advanced radar systems, control centers, launching systems, and guided missiles.

Ankara is planning to purchase 100 F-35 fighter jets from the U.S. pending congressional approval, and its pilots are currently training on the weapons platform at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona.

Turkish firms also supply the F-35 program with key components, including airframe structures and assemblies, and the center fuselages.